When talking with Judy Zeddies, she just jumps right in. I was in Lillstreet’s Printmaking Department, maybe, ten seconds before the tour had begun and I was already learning the particulars about pieces of machinery that I’d never even heard of. Printmaking is really a foreign thing to me, but to tour the space with such a staunch advocate (one would hope so, she’s the head of the department) was enlightening and exciting. And to be honest, it smells really good in there. A mixture of woodiness and industry!
Printmaking—the practice that goes back ages and ages to when you couldn’t just hit ‘Print’—as told by Judy Zeddies is at once vintage and contemporary. Pointing out a drawer of letters to me, she declares: “These are great photo ops. Oooh! Right? With the little stains on ‘em, so antique and exotic. When they’re all organized, they’re not as interesting,” she laughs. That fusion of rustic and new was always in the space. This is, after all, something that humans have been doing a while, but in the studio with Judy it feels fresh and available rather than dusty and stodgy.
“We’re new again. We went without for about six months, and we’re building up again. We have a new press, which is crazy. I’ve never seen one of these except for on a showroom floor. We’ve got it set up on a table top, and I was the first one to make a print,” she offers, clearly proud! “This should last decades,” she says, gesturing towards her beloved contraption.
[chair prints by Judy Zeddies]
Then, all of a sudden, we are in the middle of a lecture on the different types of printmaking, which I synthesize here because hey, I didn’t know any of this stuff and maybe you don’t either!
Monotype (Judy’s specialty):
- print without a fixed matrix, which means it can only happen once
- similar to reduction printing (cutting away board as it is layered so the print number is limited to however many happen in the first printing)
- metal plate that is etched with chemistry that allows you to make multiples (25-125 of the same thing)
- has a fixed matrix—can be replicated
- similar to relief prints, rolled prints, linoleum blocks (can be inked over again and again)
[Monotype chair print by Judy Zeddies]
By this time, we are at the box of letters—the type—where I am told pretty quickly that if I pick anything up I have to know where I got it because letters better stay where they’re supposed to stay! A disorganized letter case is, from what I understand, the printer’s nightmare.
“It’s magic antique stuff. Handset type is an old-fashioned trade, really,” Judy explains as she shows me the individual type. “Yeah, letterpress is pretty awesome.”
There’s so much to learn in that Printmaking classrooms!